Some facts and thoughts about the UN on its 75th birthday

Flag of the United Nations, adopted on October 20th, 1947

On October 24th, 1945, shortly after the end of World War II, the United Nations (UN) were founded in San Francisco as the successor organization of the League of Nations, established after World War I in Geneva, although the latter only ceased operations on April 20th, 1946.

The first meetings of the General Assembly and the Security Council, formed by France, the (Nationalist) Republic of China, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States began in London on January 10th, 1946 with 51 nations represented.

Trygve Lie (1896-1968), Norwegian Foreign Minister of the government in exile in London during German occupation, was elected as the first UN Secretary-General on February 2nd. 1946.

Due to the outcome of the war, there were notable gaps in the ranks. Spain joined in 1955, after the Cold War ended its international isolation, and Japan in 1956, with Okinawa still under American jurisdiction.

The two German states that emerged after 1945 had to wait until 1973. After the end of the Vietnam War, a reunited, but now Communist state entered in 1977. Finally, North and South Korea became full members in 1991.

Interestingly enough, thanks to Joseph Stalin’s insistence, both Belarus and Ukraine were founding members as Soviet republics, though at the time they obviously weren’t independent.

Taiwan, the island to which the Chinese Nationalists retreated in 1949 after losing the civil war against Mao’s Communists, currently doesn’t belong to this international network.

The People’s Republic of China took its place on the 25th of October 1971, after Resolution 2758 sponsored by then Maoist Albania was passed by the General Assembly in New York.

On October 12th, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that his country would withdraw again from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on December 31, 2018 due to a perceived bias against the US and its ally Israel, just as his predecessor Ronald Reagan had done in 1984. Under President George W. Bush, the US had rejoined the agency in 2003.

The idea of mankind coming together regularly, trying to find solutions for the planet’s multiple problems, sounds very nice indeed. At the same time, it’s undeniable that the Third World uses the UN as an open tribune to often unfairly criticize the more developed nations, which basically fund the whole budget themselves.

Other issues, related to forms of autocratic government, backward cultural values and the clashes between people from very different backgrounds are even more complex. The following examples can be considered representative:

Considering their very problematic human rights record, it’s also irritating that Mauritania, Sudan and Venezuela were elected to the UN council dealing with this sensitive topic in 2019.

At the same time, Muslim strongholds like Comoros, Niger and Saudi Arabia are members of the Women’s Rights Council, which represents a contradiction in itself.

South Africa, where after the end of apartheid in 1994 the race roles have been inverted and the systematic killing of Whites because of their ethnicity continues unabated, openly complains about alleged omnipresent racism against Blacks in Europe and is even granted the chance to send an official UN observer there.

75 years after its creation, the United Nations with its current 193 members has enough to celebrate. The number of those living in absolute poverty keeps declining, most peace missions have been at least partly successful and much-trumpeted democracy is spreading, but there’s absolutely no reason for self-righteousness.


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